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The Bridge (1959)

Die Brücke (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 1 May 1961 (USA)
In 1945, Germany is being overrun, and nobody is left to fight but teenagers.


Bernhard Wicki
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Folker Bohnet Folker Bohnet ... Hans Scholten
Fritz Wepper ... Albert Mutz
Michael Hinz ... Walter Forst
Frank Glaubrecht Frank Glaubrecht ... Jurgen Borchert
Karl Michael Balzer Karl Michael Balzer ... Karl Horber
Volker Lechtenbrink ... Klaus Hager
Günter Hoffmann Günter Hoffmann ... Sigi Bernhard (as Günther Hoffmann)
Cordula Trantow ... Franziska
Wolfgang Stumpf ... Stern
Günter Pfitzmann Günter Pfitzmann ... Heilmann
Heinz Spitzner Heinz Spitzner ... Fröhlich
Siegfried Schürenberg Siegfried Schürenberg ... Lt. Colonel
Ruth Hausmeister Ruth Hausmeister ... Mrs. Mutz
Eva Vaitl Eva Vaitl ... Mrs. Borchert
Edith Schultze-Westrum ... Mother Bernhard


A group of German boys is ordered to protect a small bridge in their home village during the waning months of the second world war. Truckloads of defeated, cynical Wehrmacht soldiers flee the approaching American troops, but the boys, full of enthusiasm for the "blood and honor" Nazi ideology, stay to defend the useless bridge. Written by Miranda Callahan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They look for love in a world of violence!


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


None of the tanks shown in the movie are real. Since the German army still did not have any tanks in 1959, Bernhard Wicki had to have wooden models constructed, they were then placed on top of a truck chassis. The wheels can clearly been seen under the "tank" body. See more »


The action takes place within a couple of days in the late spring of 1945 as the US forces were moving through Bavaria. However, the trees clearly show their late Autumn remaining foliage, instead of spring buds and new leaves. See more »


Stern: I can't see these boys sacrificed pointlessly at the end of the war!
Fröhlich: I've spoken to your boys. They are idealists. They believe in fighting for their ideals. They want to save their Fatherland. They believe what you taught them. Hölderlin. German Textbook for Older Students. The battle is ours, O Fatherland! Count not the dead!
Stern: But, Herr Fröhlich, all these ideals - freedom, Fatherland, a hero's death - they've all been betrayed!
Fröhlich: A few days ago I heard that my son had been killed in action. Has he...
See more »

Alternate Versions

An English dubbed version was released in the USA in 1963. See more »

User Reviews

THE BRIDGE (Bernhard Wicki, 1959) ***1/2
25 February 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This German contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is an unflinching war effort that obviously draws comparisons – in its narrative depicting the disillusionment experienced by a number of schoolboys-turned-soldiers – with ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930), albeit dealing with the subsequent world conflict. Though only rated * by the "Leslie Halliwell Film Guide", it boasts a favourable write-up therein – on the other hand, I was under the impression that it was given more than *** in the Leonard Maltin equivalent! For the record, it has received its due in "War Movies" – an oversized but appealing book on the subject owned by my father – and is even listed in the all-time top 3,000 movies ranked by the "Wonders In The Dark" website.

The acclaim this garnered upon release won Wicki the co-director gig on Darryl F. Zanuck's super production revolving around the D-Day landings THE LONGEST DAY (1962); his brief Hollywood tenure also comprised THE VISIT (1964) and, another WWII adventure, MORITURI (1965) – a distinguished actor in his own right, he is perhaps best-known for his supporting turn in Michelangelo Antonioni's LA NOTTE (1961). With respect to the film's cast, only the face of a youthful Fritz Wepper – future co-star of CABARET (1972) and the "Derrick" TV series – was familiar to this viewer. Oddly boasting no credits on the print I watched (except for the title and company credits!), this competed at the Oscars against Italy's THE GREAT WAR – a viewing of which followed in quick succession – that concerned itself, albeit on a vaster scale and in a serio-comic tone, with WWI…but they were surprisingly defeated by the exotic French entry i.e. BLACK ORPHEUS.

The movie is basically divided into three parts: the first 40 minutes showing the boys in school; the next 30 illustrating their basic training and posting; and the last half-hour being devoted to the combat sequences. Most of the teenage boys are coming-of-age and experience their first sexual hang-ups before being sent to the front: a blond boy with the only female student in the class; another the salesgirl in his father's shop (who is also the boss' lover); and the cowardly Mayor's son towards the gymnasium instructor in a nearby girls' school. The battle scenes are certainly effectively rendered and appropriately harrowing, if occasionally over-the-top: a G.I., astonished to be confronted by a bunch of 16 year-olds, tells them to run off to their mothers but they find his condescending attitude insulting…and he is literally gutted by their response!; an equally disdainful local, then, has his face blown off and body scarred by a backfiring bazooka, etc. The supreme irony of the film is that, while the boys' superior officer (who is himself shot almost instantly for apparent desertion by his own compatriots!) orders them to defend the expendable bridge ostensibly to keep the kids out of harm's way, the fact that the German forces intend blowing it up regardless so as to stem the Allied advance ensures that all but one of the fresh-faced soldiers sacrifice their lives to the fatherland unnecessarily!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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West Germany


German | English

Release Date:

1 May 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bridge See more »

Filming Locations:

Cham, Bavaria, Germany

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fono Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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